What have I gotten myself into?

Oh dear, this has been a bad week Korean-wise.

I did only one TOPIK section all week and it wasn’t impressive so I really need to up my game. I have been feeling really busy during the week days, but when I look at my planner now that the weekend has come, I am not entirely sure where the time went. I haven’t been wasting time facebook stalking people or something like that.
I had some classes that took quite some energy since it’s the final week of the term and they required me to get up “before Satan puts on his shoes” as we put it in Danish. I also had a few “errands” that couldn’t be postponed (Christmas presents and the like), but where did the time go??! I even went through vocabulary during my lecture breaks.

Today I have done 3 TOPIK sections while commuting, and in the 쓰기 part there was a question requiring you to know how to say “breaking” a leg. I learned how to say that last week or the week before, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember it! That question was worth 6 points…

Going through the tests I’ve already completed to find my weak spots feels like crossing a mountain without having spent time in base camp. It takes an aweful lot of time, you suffer, and you feel like you might get a better return on investment if you did something differently.
Perhaps I should focus more on completing more of the Sogang books and listen to TTMIK to gain more overall Korean knowledge and focus less on the old TOPIK tests before Christmas?

With this speed, I’m not confident I can sit level 3 in April. I know it has been ambitious all along, but January is approaching and we all need to sign up. What to do?
Sign up for the intermediate level and hope to dodge disaster?
Sign up for both beginner and intermediate, knowing that after three hours of beginner exam, sitting the intermediate exam is not going to be fun?
Admit defeat and only sign up for the beginner level?

If I sign up only for the intermediate level and fail miserably I don’t have on paper that I “would have passed” level 1 or 2 even if that is the case so that would leave me with nothing to prove the skills that I do have…

Do you guys have some tips or thoughts to share?


8 thoughts on “What have I gotten myself into?

  1. alodia

    I don’t have tips or advice, but IF I WERE YOU (so that would be me in your shoes) what I’ll do… maybe a day before I register for TOPIK, I’ll sit on an old TOPIK intermediate exam and do it as if it were a real exam (with the time limit and no pausing and repeating audio files). I’ll also mark my answers whether I am confident about a question or I am only 50% sure of my answer or I only guessed. Then I’ll check and score my paper. If I won’t pass Level 3, I’ll sign up for the 초급 exam. If I pass Level 3 or 4, I’ll check first which numbers I got the correct answers. Did I get a high score because I really know the answers or I was just lucky with my guesses today? If it’s the former, I’ll sign up for 중급, if it’s the latter, I’ll get 초급 first.

    That is IF I WERE YOU. 🙂

    What I actually hate is that the range of difficulty of 초급 and 중급 is too wide. For someone on the ‘awkward’ stage of not a beginner but not yet intermediate it’s too difficult to decide. 초급 would be really easy while 중급 can still be very difficult. Maybe if you’re the type who wants to see a little reward first and that reward could motivate you to study further, then go for 초급 if you are still not very confident with 중급. But if you don’t mind failing (I’m not saying you will) then why not go for 중급 and give it a try. Aim for a Level 4. But if you won’t get it, there will always be a next one.

    Ah! How about this. Instead of trying 중급, why not try one or two old 초급 papers. If you’ll get a very high score and you find it really easy, then I think you better take the 중급.

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Thanks a lot Dia. I really appreciate it 🙂
      I think you’re right and I will postpone the decision until I actually need to sign up and then I will follow your suggestion and try one from each level under “real” testing conditions. Then I can see which is more realistic by then. I should have some time to study over the holidays even though I also have an exam in January that I also need to brush up for. A lot can happen in a month so hopefully it looks brighter after Christmas 🙂

      I have heard about the jump from 초급 to 중급 and it made me really nervous. When people who have studied for several years walk away from the 중급 then for me to sit it after just one year without having taken classes or been to Korea seems like a huuuuuge challenge. Maybe it wouldn’t be that “bad” to sit a level 2 after a year of self-study…

      1. alodia

        But rememberm our dear Shana managed to score a level 4 on her first attempt at TOPIK (and that was when she haven’t studied yet in Korea and have only self-studied). But of course, it’s THE Shana. XD
        Good luck! I’ll be sitting on the 중급 again this coming April – even though I know I won’t have much time for review since I’m doing my thesis until the end of March.

      2. koreanlearner Post author

        Wow. Maybe I should try to pull off “a Shanna” 😀 I just visited her site today 🙂 I have no idea how I could have missed it! Back to the books. 화이팅!

  2. bluehanbok

    This is also my problem! I want to take Level 3 but after answering some practice exams, I only get high scores on the 어휘 part! I tried answering the 쓰기 part but I’m not really familiar with most of the grammar patterns. I am having second thoughts if I will take Level 2 or Level 3.

    Like what ate Dia said, I tried answering 초급 test papers but they were too easy for me. I’ve been studying Korean for almost 3 years(well, not straight because I also studied Japanese and Indonesian in between) and I’ve also studied Korean in Korea so I think I really need to work hard for Level 3. Even though I still have tons of paper to finish this Christmas break, I’m spending a lot of time in reviewing for TOPIK on April.

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Hear hear! But at least you’re at the stage where the 초급 seems easy 🙂 That’s a milestone I haven’t reached yet. I’m sure that if you are entering the “intermediate territory” now in your TOPIK preparations you can defenitely make it happen by April 🙂 화이팅! Were you studying in Korea recently? That could make it a lot easier even if your’re not there now because then when you learn a new grammar pattern you can think back to some of the things that the locals said that seemed weird at the time. At least that was my experience with Italian, I would pick up some weird expression on the tram or in a newspaper and then when I came across it in my studies afterwards they would make sense “in hindsight”.
      Of course one concern is how much time your other studies take. I really want to spend a loooot of time with Korean because it’s super exciting, but on the other hand I don’t want to sacrifice my grades in my uni classes… I suppose that’s the odd balance we all have to find.

      1. bluehanbok

        I studied in Korea in 2011. I agree with you that staying in Korea helped me a lot in my language study! My teachers explained some basic sentence patterns in a way that we foreign students can understand easily. We keep on repeating basic patterns and vocabs because they said that it will be very good if we will have good Korean basics. Maybe that was the reason why I really find the beginner level very easy to answer.

        Wow, you’re also studying Italian?

      2. koreanlearner Post author

        I would love to study in Korea or get expatriated for a period of time when I finish my studies 🙂

        Yes, I did my MSc exchange in Milan so I studied a lot of Italian next to my uni classes. I continued when I got back home, but towards the end of the fall semester this year it was just to much so unfortunately I have missed quite a few classes lately…

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